Opinion: Taking French path will lead America’s economy to dead end

The headline in USA Today following the recent French election was “Clinton welcomes France’s new path.”


France had just elected a socialist government for the first time in over two decades. It is a nation that has been living beyond its means for years. A nation where the top tax rates exceed 70 percent, with the new government saying it wants to take them to over 85 percent.  

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It is a country where the work ethic is collapsing under the weight of a staggeringly large bureaucracy, which the new leadership has promised to expand by the tens of thousands. 

France’s new president, François Hollande, has said he will withdraw completely from the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and has questioned the value of NATO generally.

Secretary Clinton welcomes this “new path” on behalf of the Obama administration – causing one to wonder why such an effusive embrace of the new French direction should be the policy of our government.

Does the president and his Secretary of State see this as chance to play follow the leader? Has the curtain been pulled back a little further on the path that a post-election Obama administration will pursue?

The message seems to be: People of the left unite and close ranks around the doctrine that capitalism, markets and profit are the problem. And if countries can simply purge themselves of these self-centered purposes, social justice and prosperity will follow.   

A great opportunity is now upon these administrations and their followers to secure the goal of moving nations, whether France or America, to a more just society – one built on the theory that not only does it take a village, it takes a government willing to tell the folks in the village how best to live their lives.

This is heady stuff – massive power shifts to those in power.  

Taxes are not used primarily to fund the traditional functions of government, but rather to underwrite the re-election of the elected. 

This is done in the name of making sure that all are treated fairly, as defined by the few.  The irony of this approach is that the individuals who make up the “all” are dealt out of the process of deciding their future.  

The person who takes the risk of creating enterprises that generate economic wealth, and jobs, is penalized and vilified for being successful and out of the ordinary.

Of course, in the end, this stifles initiative except where it counts – if you are pursuing the “new path” in the expansion of government and the power that accrues to those who govern.

We are being subjected to the Obama government, which learned its economics and developed its philosophies in the heady days of late 60s and early 70s radicalism. 

This was a time when radically reconstructing market economies was in vogue as the intellectual engine of the time. Its legacy appears to live on with this administration.

We should thank the Secretary of State for this moment of honesty and clarity about where this government, led by the president, wants to take us should it receive another term in office. 

We should probably also ask them to close the door behind them as they take us on this “new path.” It will inevitably lead to America losing its competitive edge in a world where commerce and economic growth are still built on being productive and competitive. 

Asia, especially, will not wait for us to experiment with these failed ideas. Neither will emerging nations in other parts of the world which have, in some cases, seen up close the debilitating effect of these policies.

It is not social justice to undermine the engine that is American exceptionalism and our market economy, which has created so much for our nation for so long, just because a bunch of folks in Washington want to follow the “new French path.” It may lead to more power for them but it certainly leads to less prosperity for our nation.

Judd Gregg is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Foreign Operations. He also is an international adviser to Goldman Sachs.